This past week was midterms week, and to boost our morale after a tough week we took a trip to Portugal with IES. On Friday we left early in the morning excited to get away from studying and for a sunny weekend in Portugal. Our first stop was the city of Coimbra, where we visited the palace turned university. We had a tour, and we had a perfect view of the city from an overlook at the university. Most notable was that university students wore robes just like Hogwarts students. Apparently, J.K. Rowling was married to a Portuguese man and was inspired by the traditional university attire in Portugal. Portugal was also where she was inspired and wrote much of Harry Potter, but unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit that city.
From Coimbra, we made our way to Lisbon. There, we had time to relax in our hotel rooms for a while after a long day and then we met up to go out to a group dinner. We went to dinner and a show, so we were entertained by various songs, dances, and skits that are the traditional Portuguese “Fado.” Many of the songs are sad but they are used for all occasions. I couldn’t understand much of what was going on, but it was fun!
On Saturday we had breakfast in the hotel, which was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone was so excited because usually we only eat a piece of fruit or bread for breakfast so we couldn’t wait to eat bacon and eggs and croissants with Nutella. After the wonderful breakfast, we went on a quick tour of Lisbon by bus and then a walking tour of a palace. Lisbon has a San Francisco feel because of the hilly streets and the replica of the Golden Gate Bridge over the river.
Next we went to Boca do Inferno, translated as “Mouth of Hell,” which are cliffs on the coast of Portugal that typically have rough waters but are a beautiful sight. After the cliffs, we had some time to explore the coastal town of Cascais and find gelato, which is always my priority when traveling.
Sunday we started off with another spectacular breakfast. Then we started the trek home and we stopped at Fátima on the way. Fátima is a famous town in the Catholic faith because it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared there to three children. An enormous basilica and plaza were built after the appearance, and Fátima is now an important pilgrimage site. It blew me away to see people with such intense faith. There is a narrow white path that pilgrims walk on their knees to the altar, and we could see people walking while holding a family member’s hand. Something else that happens in Fátima is that people bring candles shaped like a body part that needs healing and they burn it there to ask for a cure from the Virgin Mary.
It was a perfect vacation with perfect weather after a crazy week of exams, but I’m glad to be back in Salamanca until the next adventure!